Karaoke Room 6
Baby, you're not dancin' on your own
Every year, our jiu jitsu gym has a tradition where we reserve a room in a dive-y karaoke joint in the party center of DC and scream incomprehensibly into a microphone songs that we would normally only vocalize to in the shower. This year, I came prepared with a list of songs that I knew I could pull off, as well as throwing myself into impromptu participation for other tunes.
Even though I’ve only been to two karoake parties, I’m starting to develop a strong sense of nostalgia for this gym tradition. It’s likely because each party has followed a major event at the gym — last year, it was promotions; this year, it was our biggest in-house tournament yet. As someone who always has craved belonging and acceptance, partaking in these traditions has been immensely important to fulfilling that desire. (Sidenote: I can’t believe I nearly missed out on the festivities this year because I didn’t want to deal with the colder weather.)
As the weather is getting colder, things are naturally starting to slow down for me. It causes anxiety in me especially because I’ve been trying so hard to push in the last months of summer to make strides in my jiu jitsu, and the idea of slowing down is scary in some way. Especially now, with the in-house tournament over, what I considered my last big test of the year has finally passed. Over the years, I’ve become keenly aware of how the changing of the seasons inevitable changes my mood and energy. No matter how many Vitamin D pills I take or sunlight I get, the endless rain of falling leaves and the “winter is coming” breeze puts a hard stop to my turbo efforts, perhaps overnight.
Part of me wants to force things to happen otherwise, to keep at the frenetic pace of learning and improving that I’ve done in the past few months, but I’m starting to understand that everything has its cycles. And as much as I would like to speed things along during the times when I feel “slow,” more and more life has shown me that accepting change is the way to go.
So, for instance, I only come to class with 2-3 techniques to work on, even though during the summer months I had the motivation to do 5x more (query if that helped or hurt my learning though). I had created an 18 point list of things that I needed to feel somewhat comfortable with before I did a competition. Now I know the most important thing in competition that makes or breaks my victories lies in guard retention.
I think that Past Self may have called this behavior “lazy”, but Present Self calls this “reasonable.” Or perhaps, Future Self may accept this as “realistic.” Whatever the word I use, I try to be aware of whether or not it serves me RIGHT NOW as opposed to what has “worked” in the past. Just like there are outfits for winter and summer, there are ways of looking at the world for trauma-response Past Me and transformed Present Me. Whatever it is, though, can change when I need it.
I think often a lot about jiu jitsu on my bike rides home. Now with the weather getting dark, it’s no longer safe (or fun) to listen to pop music on the ride home from practice. So I spend a lot of time mulling over what I want to get out of jiu jitsu, instead of screaming CALIFORNIA GURLS WE’RE UNFORGETTABLE under my breath at traffic lights.
What I want from jiu jitsu are memories that shape my future experiences for the better. So much of my past has been painful, and so much of my recent past has been avoiding that pain. Yet the most healing parts of jiu jitsu have come from forming memories that serve as a foundation towards a better (and less anxious) me. I can create a set list of bangers to sing to, even if it’s a little off key. California girls optional.